The field is set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with all 16 teams which will be continuing their seasons. Hockey aficionados talk about how different the postseason is and are they correct!
The fairest comparison the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is they remind us of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the opening round. The number of upsets can be mind-boggling, as the higher seeds are knocked off, stunning everyone who was making NHL picks who had these clubs at least in the Conference Finals and beyond. However, most years the better teams advance after that point, but not always as we have witnessed.
Going back five years of postseason action, the most important aspect you need to understand first is lower seeded squads have won 17 of the 40 series played in the conference quarterfinals, which is 35 percent. Think about the NBA, which is most chalk-laden among all the professional sports and how often does a conference final not feature a team seeded 1,2 or 3?
That is not the case in hockey. While it is true a No. 4 vs. No.5 more often than not is not a big upset if the lower seed takes the series, this is not where the majority of upsets have come from.
While the NHL went away from true seeding 1-thru-8 last season, if you use same formula as the past based on points earned in your conference, seven times out of 10 in the past five years a No.6 seed has ended the season of a No.3 seed, right in the opening round.
Hockey by its nature of having so few scores lends itself to upsets and with the parity in the league, you have two players who are dialed in and can find the back of the net and a goalie who turns in brick wall for a series, they can win four times in a seven-game series.
Only one No.1 seed has fallen in the opening round and that was Vancouver being vanquished by No.8 Los Angeles, who suffered injuries, got healthy at the end of the season and were not your typical club as a eighth-seed, later becoming Stanley Cup champions in 2012.